Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Kicking Off the 2014 Season...

The 2014 Nebraska mountain bike season got underway this past weekend with the first round of the Psycowpath series at Swanson Park in Bellevue. It was a beautiful day for a bike race, which helped bring racers out in near-record numbers.

I raced in the Marathon category, which is a 4-hour XC event, but there also was a full schedule of traditional XC events taking place as well. We had an incredible turn out in the marathon field, with 52 racers taking the start. Given the numbers, I was fortunate to receive a front-row call-up, thanks to my overall finish in the 2013 Psycowpath series.

The race started off hard from the gun, with 2013 Psycowpath Marathon series champion, Jim Winkelpleck taking the early lead. Kent McNeill went into the trees second, and I followed Kent in third. The sound of the 50+ rider pack coming behind us was very cool off the start.
Racer/photographer Mike McColgan catches me airing it out on one of Swanson's rollers.

By the half-way point of the first lap, Kent had taken the lead, I was in second and Dale Pinkelman had moved up to third. It was clear relatively early-on that the race would be decided between the three of us, but in the first four laps of the race, it was an all Kent McNeill show. He was putting the wood to us and making it look easy.
Using one of Swanson's killer berms to carry a ton of speed. Photo: Mike McColgan

Sometime around lap five, while running in third, I noticed I was gaining ground on Dale on a couple sections of the course. Eventually I was able to get up to him and wasted no time setting sail for Kent, who I caught not long afterwards. I felt comfortable as I moved into the race lead, and worked diligently in the laps that followed to solidify my lead.

That plan worked great until about lap eight (of ten), when I began to have hunger pangs from not eating enough in the early going. Unfortunately, even though I ate and drank immediately when I realized my error, the set back was enough to allow Kent and Dale to bridge back up to me. Dale went around first, then Kent came up to my wheel. We rode together for almost a complete lap before I once again went around him early in the final lap. Unfortunately, what I perceived as weakness in Kent was simply a move to mark me, as when he made his final move off my wheel with about a half-lap remaining, it was a move I couldn't counter. Given the situation, I backed off and enjoyed the fruits of my effort, which would earn me third overall for the day.

View complete results from the Swanson Shoot Out.

I rode my prototype Singular Rooster in the race and didn't feel at a disadvantage at all relative to Dale and Kent, who both rode 'standard' 29"ers. I'm excited about the potential of the29+ platform in long XC races, as the bikes are fast and offer cornering traction that's simply not available on bikes with smaller tires. I'm stoked enough about 29+ that I've actually sent a Fox fork off to Shockspital to have them make some specific modifications that will allow it to be used on the Rooster. I'm going all-in!

Look for an update on the Rooster suspension fork project soon, as I just sent the fork off to Shockspital yesterday.



Bruce Brown said...

Great race, Matt - and nice write up about it!!!! I will be very interested how your suspension fork works out once you modify it. That would be ultra nice and plush...

RF said...

Are you getting new, longer lowers to accomodate 29+, or do they just limit travel so the tire won't hit crown at bottom out? Interesting!

MG said...

We are going to limit the travel on this fork, as it is an old 'donor' and I don't want to spend too much on a project that may or may not work. It will still have 85-88mm of travel, which should be good with the 3.0-inch tire.

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Sandrinha X said...

interested how your suspension fork works out once you modify it. That would be ultra nice and plush... Putaria